Dynamic land use and land cover changes and their effect on forest resources in a coastal village of Matemwe, Zanzibar, Tanzania

Type Journal Article - Land Use Policy
Title Dynamic land use and land cover changes and their effect on forest resources in a coastal village of Matemwe, Zanzibar, Tanzania
Volume 28
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2011
Page numbers 26-37
URL https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Niina_Kaeyhkoe/publication/223512676_Dynamic_land_use_and_land_​cover_changes_and_their_effect_on_forest_resources_in_a_coastal_village_of_Matemwe_Zanzibar_Tanzania​/links/56f1331b08aeb4e2ede8ca7a.pdf
Recent land cover change estimates show overall decline of tropical forests at the regional and global
scales caused by multiple social, cultural and economic factors. There is an overall concern on the prevailing
land use practices, such as shifting cultivation and extraction of forest materials as agents of forests
losses, but also new, emerging land uses are threatening tropical forests. Understanding of the long-term
development and driving forces of forest changes are needed, especially at local levels where many decisions
on forest policies and land uses are made. This paper addresses the importance of such information
for improved estimates of forest dynamics by studying local level land cover and land use changes during
the last 50–70 years in the Eastern African tropical island of Zanzibar, Tanzania. The paper discusses the
role of traditional and new land uses mainly subsistence farming, tourism and government interference
through tree planting, in the long-term development of the forests at the village level. The material for
the study is gathered from the interpretation of archival maps and aerial photographs combined with
contemporary digital aerial photographs. The analyses are based on the mapping, spatial sampling and
spatio-temporal change trajectory analysis (LCTA) of forest land cover, forest land uses and settlement
patterns with GIS and statistics. Six distinct forest land cover change trajectories were identified and these
illustrate dynamic and heterogeneous nature of the forests. Closed forest cover has dominated throughout
due to cyclical land use patterns, but over 70% of the land area has been continuously transforming
between closed, semi-open and open land cover conditions. Land use turnover rates indicate that hardly
any forest areas are left untouched from the forces, which remove and re-establish forest vegetation in
the long run. Land cover and land use change trajectories are spatially fragmented in the studied landscape.
Majority of forest loss-gain dynamics is caused by shifting cultivation, while forest losses are most
dramatic along the coast, where traditional and new land uses meet and land uses pressures are highest.
The study suggests that landscape change trajectory analyses, where contemporary and historical
information on land uses and land cover changes are spatially linked, can provide valuable aspects into
local level forest land use planning and management strategies. For the case study, the findings suggest
the following key forest management strategies for consideration: (1) establishment of a protected forest/scrubland
in participation with the local stakeholders, especially the farmers, (2) promotion of areas
for permanent agricultural practices, while simultaneously introducing management controls in the traditional
slash-and-burn farming areas, and (3) promoting new livelihood opportunities for the farmers,
who have traditionally been dependent on forest resources, meanwhile introducing alternatives for fuel
wood for cooking.

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